Who is a Nazi and Why Should I Care?

hitler and staff

Adolf Hitler and his staff salute during the opening ceremonies of the XIth Olympic Games on Aug. 1, 1936, in Berlin, Germany. Getty Images

Nazi:
noun
1. historical
a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
adjective
1. of or concerning the Nazis or Nazism.

That’s the dictionary definition of “Nazi.” Of course, there’s a lot more to it, and to get the details, please visit the Wikipedia pages for Nazism and The Nazi Party.

Why am I bringing this up?

I read a blog post recently where apparently, speculative fiction author N.K. Jenisin called science fiction author Jon Del Arroz a Nazi on twitter. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a conservative being equated to a Nazi, but does this really mean Mr. Del Arroz belongs to the Nazi Party?

Not that I can tell. According to blog posts such as this one and his authoring articles like this one at the online magazine The Federalist, he is certainly a political conservative, but again, does that make him (or any other conservative) an actual Nazi?

No, not according to the dictionary definition of the term. But as I’ve already mentioned, “Nazi” can be used in a wider social scope. To find out more, I went to Urban Dictionary. They have a lot of definitions of “Nazi,” many of which correspond to the traditional dictionary’s definition.

However, a few do not:

Someone who has an opinion that is different than my own.

Here’s another that’s quite similar:

1. (noun) A person who believe [sic] Hitler was a good person and did nothing wrong.

2. (noun) Someone that voiced an opinion someone else didn’t like.
“That guy’s a nazi, he wants to kill jewish people.”

“That guy’s a nazi, he thinks differently than I do.”

“That guy’s a nazi, he thinks differently than I do” seems to be the closest example I could find of why anyone would call Mr. Del Arroz a Nazi.

But we all think differently than someone else. The world isn’t made up of a homogeneous population of identically thinking and feeling people.

So by that definition, we’re all “Nazis” in someone’s eyes.

No, that can’t be right.

So let’s look at some details. Can we discover why Ms. Jemisin accused Mr. Del Arroz of being a Nazi?

To start with, we’ll have to look at Del Arroz’s article on The Federalist, After I Said Transgenderism Is A Mental Illness, Twitter Blocked My Account. That pretty much lays out the situation relative to Del Arroz and twitter, but where does Ms. Jemisin come in?

jda screenshot

Screenshot taken from Jon Del Arroz’s blog

I’m including a small screen capture taken from Del Arroz’s blog of a “tweet” made by Jemisin yesterday (June 19th) responding to @PrinceJvstin (I can barely read the name on the image, so I may have gotten it wrong) stating:

Nazis use Comic Sans. Why am I not surprised.

That’s not particularly illuminating, so I went to Jemisin’s twitter account and looked for that tweet, hoping there was a “conversation” associated with it. I couldn’t find anything.

Maybe she deleted it, or maybe the way twitter organizes information isn’t entirely linear. I tried searching the webpage for “@PrinceJvstin,” “Jon Del Arroz,” “jondelarroz,” and “arroz,” but came up with nothing.

But I did get the “flavor” of Jemisin’s opinions based on a quick review of her recent tweets, so I don’t think her accusing someone of being a Nazi for expressing the opinion of transsexual people being mentally ill is off the table.

Okay, let’s say Del Arroz expressed a viewpoint that is exceptionally unpopular to social and political liberals. Certainly, he seems to be a lightning rod for the criticism of leftist pundits, such as this example at P.Z. Myers’s blog.

Just for giggles, I scanned the comments sections of both The Federalist article and Mr. Myers’s blog post, and although the specific content is different, the highly emotional expressions of the ire and angst filled respondents is identical. Each side appears to feel horribly insulted and put out by the other.

This seems to be more a trait of human beings on social media rather than one indicating conservatism or liberalism.

So, is Mr. Del Arroz (or by inference any social or political conservative) a Nazi? No, of course not. He may not be your cup of tea, and his opinions may certainly rub you the wrong way, that does not mean he is or ever has been a member of the Nazi Party.

Nearly three weeks ago, I posted a wee essay called Be Careful What You Tweet commenting on Roseanne Barr’s ill-advised and seemingly racist comment. It cost Ms. Barr her job and probably her career.

Mr. Del Arroz’s twitter account was suspended after his tweet about transsexuals, and whether we agree with that action or not, twitter is within its rights to do so according to their own “rules against hateful conduct” which include (quoting The Federalist article) promoting “violence against, threaten, or harass other people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

Wait! What did I just say?

Did Mr. Del Arroz “promote violence” against transsexual people by expressing his opinion relative to mental illness?

Good question.

vi·o·lence

noun
behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
synonyms: brutality, brute force, ferocity, savagery, cruelty, sadism, barbarity, brutishness

  • strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.
    “the violence of her own feelings”
    synonyms: intensity, severity, strength, force, vehemence, power, potency, fervency, ferocity, fury, fire
    “the violence of his passion”
  • LAW
    the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

That’s only a partial list, but on the surface, I can’t see that Del Arroz advocated the use of force against transsexual people or anyone else.

However, I am aware, as with the term “Nazi,” the word “violence” can be used in a wider social context to mean any speech with which I disagree or am upset by.

It’s really, really complicated and worthy of its own commentary (which I don’t have time for), but briefly, here’s an opinion piece from The New York Times alongside Why it is a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words are Violence published at The Atlantic.

Quoting the latter:

Of all the ideas percolating on college campuses these days, the most dangerous one might be that speech is sometimes violence. We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group. This is the kind of speech that many students today refer to as a form of violence.

So based on this definition, twitter could very well deem Mr. Del Arroz’s tweet as “promoting violence.” It doesn’t fit my definition, but quoting from the NY Times commentary:

Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain — even kill neurons — and shorten your life.

Your body’s immune system includes little proteins called proinflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation when you’re physically injured. Under certain conditions, however, these cytokines themselves can cause physical illness. What are those conditions? One of them is chronic stress.

Your body also contains little packets of genetic material that sit on the ends of your chromosomes. They’re called telomeres. Each time your cells divide, their telomeres get a little shorter, and when they become too short, you die. This is normal aging. But guess what else shrinks your telomeres? Chronic stress.

If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence.

But again, it’s not that simple. According to the same NY Times article:

The scientific findings I described above provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society. In short, the answer depends on whether the speech is abusive or merely offensive.

Offensiveness is not bad for your body and brain. Your nervous system evolved to withstand periodic bouts of stress, such as fleeing from a tiger, taking a punch or encountering an odious idea in a university lecture.

Can a single tweet be abusive? I suppose, but it would have to go pretty far. It also depends on how any given individual defines “offensive” vs. “abusive.”

If I were a transsexual (and I’m not), and I read a tweet where someone said I was mentally ill based on being transsexual, I might experience being “abused” if it added to many other comments and perceptions of others I had already experienced which contributed to my overall suffering.

Confused yet?

Where are we so far?

Is Jon Del Arroz a Nazi? No, not according to the dictionary definition of the term. In my opinion, applying that term in a much wider context is potentially dangerous, because of the risk of associating anyone you don’t like or with whom you disagree with the crimes of the Nazi Party, which include the Holocaust (and my wife and children are Jewish, so I’m not a big fan of the Holocaust, Nazis, or antisemitism).

Did Mr. Del Arroz promote violence? Again, according to the dictionary definition, no he did not. He expressed what in some contexts is considered a highly offensive opinion, but he did not specifically incite violence or the use of force against transsexuals or any other group.

Using twitter is not a human or legal right, so if twitter as an organization wants to suspend Del Arroz’s account, they are free to do so, regardless of how you or I may feel about it. This probably reveals twitter’s political and social biases, but that’s hardly a surprise.

As an aside, I recently found out that twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ran afoul of the twitterati because he publicly promoted the fast food restaurant Chick-Fil-A. This was a problem because it has come to light that the company’s COO expressed an opinion opposing same-sex marriage. Also, the company has donated (though the WinShape Foundation) millions of dollars to political organizations seen by LGBT activists as hostile to LGBT rights.

When confronted, Mr. Dorsey said something like he “forgot” about the company’s background and apologized.

No one is immune, I guess, but Dorsey apologized and after all, as twitter’s CEO, he more than likely had a hand in defining its policy of use. No one called him a Nazi, nor suggested that he had promoted violence against anyone.

People have been disagreeing with other ever since there were enough of us to have a conversation. We’ll continue disagreeing with each other until the Second Coming (First, if you’re a religious Jew) or the heat death of universe, whichever comes first.

Disagreeing does not mean the person we oppose is either a Nazi or has promoted violence. It just sometimes makes us feel better about ourselves if we pretend that’s who they are and what they’ve done.

Now I suppose that makes me a Nazi who is promoting violence. Let the comments begin.

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9 thoughts on “Who is a Nazi and Why Should I Care?

  1. What the New York Times said about stress is correct, which
    is simply another reason to be careful about what one speaks.
    I hope we know there are already other reasons (such as fidelity
    to truth and kindness and so on). Whether one is pro transgender
    or against transgender medicine (or sees oneself as both of neither)
    it is my point of view that people need more information on any case…
    and that the default position otherwise is a disposition of accepting love.
    Acceptance is for people, not for carte blanche gas lighting by practitioners.

    The terrible fraud of ‘transgender medicine’
    [I don’t recommend everything posted on
    YouTube by this “mass resistance” but
    this is informative.] I recommend to
    begin at 36:00 and then go back…
    start from the beginning after.

    Like

    • I’ll have to wait until I’m at home for that, Marleen.

      The main point of my essay wasn’t to address transgenderism but to ask if expressing an unpopular opinion publicly automatically rendered a person as a Nazi who is using violent speech, and the answer is a little (but not too) complicated.

      First, I think the term “Nazi” is used far too loosely. My wife and children are Jewish, and so how we experience “Nazism” is a little different than most folks. If you call a person a Nazi, from my point of view, you are accusing them of being equal to some of the worst mass murderers in human history, which is quite a bit more severe than merely expressing an unpopular opinion on twitter.

      Also, can a single tweet result in a person experiencing damaging levels of stress, especially when that tweet is made by a conservative, religious science fiction author who is unlikely to be followed on social media by the very people most vulnerable to such a statement?

      Probably not unless that tweet is repeated or highlighted on a blog or some other social outlet, where that vulnerable population is likely to visit. If a progressive author or blogger chooses to call Mr. Del Arroz out on his comments, they are probably the ones exposing their audiences to what they consider offensive or disturbing comments. Chances are, Del Arroz is followed by people who agree with him, not anyone who might feel threatened (whether he’s really threatening or not) by him.

      Like

  2. … the term “Nazi” is used far too loosely. My wife and children are Jewish, and so how we experience “Nazism” is a little different than most[*] folks. If you call a person a Nazi, from my point of view, you are accusing them of being equal to some of the worst mass murderers in human history, which is quite a bit more severe than merely expressing an unpopular opinion on twitter.

    I do agree.

    *However, I don’t hear people use
    the word much. So… “most” no.

    (At the same time, there are positions in between “member of the Nazi Party” or “you disagree with me” that are comparable to Nazi in a fair way.)

    … can a single tweet result in a person experiencing damaging levels of stress, especially when that tweet is made by a conservative, religious science fiction author who is unlikely to be followed on social media by the very people most vulnerable to such a statement?

    I don’t think it’s primarily about a single tweet (or a slew of tweets that remain nothing but tweets by one person or an aggregate of people). It is about the consequences (by which I am not referring to the consequence of being banned from twitter). Transgender people have to deal with difficulty in finding employment and so forth, and with activists advocating against them in real time. And it is likely that most transgender people have dealt with great amounts of trauma most of their lives.

    Like

    • Unfortunately, when one perspective or another thinks they’ve got the moral high road, especially such that they feel justified in marginalizing any other group, the questions do indeed need to be asked. I’m totally fine with people disagreeing with me. After all, it would arrogant to believe that everyone has to share my point of view. Just please treat me with the same human dignity you reserve for yourself. I think that’s how we’re all supposed to get along.

      Like

      • Oh, brother. I just read the article by some guy I never heard of that was linked to in the opening meditation. With his argument being that Milo Y. Is “normal” (and, for those not familiar, that his statemen(s) about child sexual solicitation — not my idea of conservative — shouldn’t have been rejected)… psht.

        Like

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